What biblical image could best be used and explained to a congregation of over 26,000 believers? The Chief Apostle chose the image of the small flock and explained it in a striking way.
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider visited the congregation in Kananga (DR Congo) on 23 July 2023. He based the divine service on Luke 12: 32: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
The little flock
First of all, Chief Apostle Schneider explained the image of the little flock. It is kind of strange to speak of a small flock, seeing that such a large number of people have gathered for this service in Kananga, he said at the beginning. However, compared to the world population, you are still a little flock, he said. “There are a lot of people who don’t even know Jesus, so from that point of view we’re still a little flock. But remember, the return of Jesus Christ is not tied to membership statistics in the New Apostolic Church. The preparation of the bride is not measured by numbers, but by the spiritual maturity of God’s children.”
The fact that the flock is little is also a sign that many brothers and sisters live in modest circumstances. Because faithfulness to God does not necessarily lead to material wealth. However, the Chief Apostle said, “God’s love for His children is not measured by wealth and success.”
“We have been sent to proclaim the gospel and prepare the bride, not to perform spectacular miracles,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. This also contributes to the fact that the church is seen as being “little”. For many, the errors committed within the Church are also a clear sign of the imperfection and an indication of the “little flock”.
Refusing to use violence and being silent in the face of attacks could also be seen as signs of weakness, which some make fun of. Important in this context is: “It is not the people who decide. It is God, our Father, who decides.”
In many people’s eyes the flock is small.
God’s good pleasure
However, God wants to give the kingdom, as it says in the Bible text, to this small flock. This means perfect fellowship with God: “This kingdom is eternal life, it is eternal fellowship with God at home in heaven, where everything is perfect, where evil and death no longer exist, where human beings have perfect fellowship with God and with one another, and where we can truly be like Jesus Christ, as though, like Christ, we had never committed a sin.”
Chief Apostle Schneider explained Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God is already in our midst as follows: “The kingdom of God is our experience of God’s presence in our lives here in Kananga.” Often the Lord sends us a sister or a brother to help us, to console us, to do us good. Through this fellowship we can already experience God’s presence.
Staying with the little flock
In order to be able to receive this kingdom, it is important to remain in the little flock, the Chief Apostle emphasised: “Staying with the little flock means staying humble before God.” This will lead to the following:
- the knowledge that everything comes from God’s grace and cannot be earned. “This makes us humble before God and our fellow human beings. We know that we are no better than our neighbour,” the Chief Apostle said.
- that we accept, trust, and obey God as Jesus reinforced: “Father, Your will be done, do what You want.”
- that we follow Christ beyond mere church attendance: “Those who belong to His flock follow Him, follow His example. They do not come to church to be served, but to serve God and their fellow human beings. Following Jesus means wanting to become like Him and to respond as He responded.”
- that we are faithful to the apostolate because we know: “In the New Apostolic Church it is never about the person behind the ministry. It is about the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostolate, the ministry in general; it is about the teaching of the Apostles as stated in our Catechism.”
The Chief Apostle reminded the congregation of Jesus’ promise that He will stay with His Apostles and take care of His church. In addition, he called on the brothers and sisters to remain calm when they are attacked and criticised and not to lose themselves in discussions and quarrels, but to orient themselves to Jesus here too, because: “Don’t be afraid little flock, stay calm. You’ll see, at the end of the story it is Jesus who wins.”
At the end of his sermon, the Chief Apostle once again encouraged the congregation: “Brother, sister, don’t be afraid to commit yourself to the Lord and serve Him. He will always give you far more than you give Him. Eternal glory is far greater than we can imagine.” In summing up, he said: “Stay with the little flock, be humble before God and ask for His grace. Have faith and obey God as a child obeys its father. Trust Him whatever happens. Follow His example, serve the Lord, become like Jesus, and remain faithful to the apostolate. And do not be afraid because God keeps His promises. Jesus is with His Church and with His Apostles. Jesus will come again.”